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From an early age, students in schools and universities are trained to develop skills to serve industrial needs, rather than how to ace measures of creativity. More than 60 years ago, a study by George Land reported that at five years old, 98% of children learn to perform well creatively. The same study also indicated that by age 10, only 30% of youth would utilize their creative abilities.

The same is true in most of our modern workplaces. Of course, being a successful business owner means learning how to gather information, analyze data, and set clear rules and objectives. But what many entrepreneurs forget is the sheer power of creativity.

That’s why husband and wife duo, Jackie and Evan Streisand, founded their company, Highway Robery (pronounced roe-ber-ree), with a focus on bringing creativity back into the business. Using their combined ingenuity, the pair design and develop vibrant robes that exude senses of adventure, imagination, and whimsy — a unique product, to say the least. 

What’s more, they’ve become a massive financial success, growing more than 175% in sales in just three years — and it doesn’t look like they’re slowing down any time soon. 

Behind the Brand

A vibrant robe business is by no means ordinary …

So, let’s rewind and learn how Jackie and Evan got their start. It all began in the summer of 2016. Jackie and Evan spent a few days road-tripping through Texas, lounging around their vacation residence, when suddenly, a special piece of clothing caught their eye.

You guessed it — a robe. 

But it wasn’t just the comfort and style of the robe that particularly appealed to the couple — it was the vibrant, colorful designs. Then, amidst their lounging, Jackie and Evan had a business idea. 

Over the next few months, they spent time researching, designing, and prototyping their product. “On our road/robe trip, we fleshed out the idea for what the brand would be. We wanted this to be fun and different. Lots of puns. Lots of colors. Lots of silliness … This was one of those things we just knew would work, so our only real validation was our instinct that this was going to be attractive to people out there,” comments Evan in an interview with Starter Story

Not Just Any Old Robe

Not only did the couple share creative instincts, but they both had ample experience in the design industry. Jackie, working as an interior designer, and Evan, operating his own shoe company, harnessed their knowledge throughout the production process of their new business.  

After a few failed attempts at cutting, sewing, and sizing using multiple downloadable patterns, the couple took their prototyping process to Los Angeles. There, they found a fabric wholesaler that offered various types of prints and fabrics, perfectly aligned with Jackie and Evan’s vision. 

Once they determined proper fit, style, and comfort, they completed their first 100 robes with just $7,000 of funding. At the same time, Jackie and Evan created a website, company name, and logo to fit their unique brand identity. Using product photos they took themselves, they finally launched their business.

Weaving Creativity Into the Launch Process

“Successful entrepreneurs act as the perfect amalgamation of creativity and business,” reads an article from Forbes. Today, this statement especially rings true for many entrepreneurs, who are finding it increasingly difficult to assume a creative mindset throughout brand development.

However, when it came to Highway Robery, the founders went above and beyond to excel in this area. “During this time, we brainstormed on how to name our robes. We opted to name our robes after some of our favorite pop culture things — little homages to the things we loved,” recalls Evan.

Even during their product photo shoot, the couple settled on a guerilla-style session, sporting various robes around their neighborhood, assuming a variety of amusing and lively poses.When it came to their social media presence, they maintained their unique aesthetic, sprinkling puns into their descriptions and posting expressive photos of friends wearing their robes.

According to Evan, one of their proudest achievements is their blog posts with wide-ranging topics, particularly crediting a humorous article called “The Golden Robes,” which celebrated some of Jackie and Evan’s favorite robe-wearers in TV and Film. Since the launch, these creative approaches to basic business growth strategies enabled Highway Robery to become a booming apparel company. 

Develop a Mindset of Perseverance

From day one, customers noticed their unique take on such an understated piece of clothing. Within the first few days of launching, they landed a handful of sales. By May 2019, the company reached nearly 50% YoY. Today, the business boasts 175% growth in annual sales. 

Since then, Jackie and Evan have added extended sizing, higher-quality product pages, and more dynamic social media ad campaigns which allow them to interact and communicate with buyers. As the founders look to the future of the business, they aim to focus on change and collaboration, particularly through partnering with different artists to create more robe designs. 

“The biggest lesson learned is that we always have to evolve! Good life lesson, as well. Content, audiences, tastes, they all change. We have to change too,” comments Evan.

For struggling entrepreneurs, the couple reinforces the ability to use creative talents and stick with unique concepts. “Everybody has ideas, but only a handful of those people are gonna try to execute them. That’s the number one thing — it’s effort … If you believe in what you’re doing, just keep at it! Even if the thing you originally dreamed up isn’t the thing it ends up being, you’ll get somewhere new by following through.”

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